K8 Hardy Fashion Show at the Whitney Museum Was Performance Art
Like a regular designer, Hardy used a production team, lighting, sound, hair, and makeup technicians, in addition to professional models. But her "fashion show" was actually a work of performance art, as she played with the typical conventions and trappings of the clothing industry and twisted them in a comment on the environmental harm involved in clothing production and fashion's "fraught relationship to both art and commerce," as well as the extremes to which people go in the name of fashion.
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In an interview with Elle Magazine, Hardy explained that she wanted to "do a fashion show so that we can look at [fashion] in a different context outside of commercialism." She also wanted to "make a statement with the looks of a more democratic expression outside of luxury."
Hardy conceived of and styled the clothes herself, largely from thrift stores, repurposing mass-produced products in wildly inventive new ways. They ranged from a woman wearing an easel on her chest to a model showing off a butt-less number with coordinating garters.
Each model was adorned with a "multi-tiered cocoon wig" and garishly excessive face paint that complemented their outfits, moving backwards or in slow motion.
Guests viewed the "Untitled Runway Show" from cramped quarters on the museum's fourth floor, after having been subjected to overbearing beats and flashing lights, along with the ironic inclusion of Neutrogena and laser hair removal advertisements as well as nail art tutorials, thanks to a mix by DJ Venus X.
Hardy clued Elle Magazine in on some of her insight for the commercials. Fashion is "always tied to a brand and marketing, and it can't breathe," Hardy said. "I hope I complicated things a little bit. I hope I shifted the balance."